Meet passionate teenage innovators from around the globe who are creating cutting-edge solutions to confront the world’s environmental threats – found right in their own backyards – while navigating the doubts and insecurities that mark adolescence.

[NOTE: Due to copyrights, the full film has been removed on November 22.]

Director’s Statement

By Laura Nix

We live during a time characterized by environmental degradation and climate change. Unprecedented drought, pollution, mass extinctions, rising sea levels, dramatic weather patterns, and an ocean that is slowly dying. It took me the majority of my adult life to come to terms with this reality, but teenagers today were born into this environmental chaos and instability. They face a daunting truth about the planet they’re inheriting, as soon as they have the mental ability to comprehend it. 

I wanted to create an immersive, emotional and cinematic experience about what it would be like to be one of those teenagers today; specifically a teen who is smart, observant and has some ideas about how he or she might address these extreme problems. When I first went to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), I fell in love with the kids and immediately saw the story potential. There’s built in tension and a unified narrative at the fair, but I always knew I wanted to push beyond the genre of a kids’ competition doc. I was more interested in students whose research was motivated by a deep sense of purpose and personal motivation. I wanted to spend time following characters not because I thought they had a good chance of winning, but because their goal was bigger than scoring a prize at a science fair. Their science projects could help us survive. 

As a kid who was invested in the arts and humanities, I grew up intimidated by science and math. But in order to confront the myriad of environmental crises we face, we all need to engage with the scientific community, and we need them to be able to communicate with us effectively. One of the most important lessons of the science fair is that students must share their research not only with the judges, but also with the general public, who don’t know anything about their projects. In a time when powerful elements are attempting to suppress and deny the truth that science offers, we need the public to engage with the scientific community more than ever. I hope that the film contributes to a dialogue that normalizes and popularizes science. 

My intention with Inventing Tomorrow was to create an emotional and character-based story about what we might learn about our world through the eyes of the next generation. The issues that face our planet are severe. But we have options in front of us, and the opportunity to make good choices. I hope the film will motivate audiences to search for those options by witnessing the courage of a 16-year old as he or she tackles the greatest problems humanity has ever faced. Our student scientists are observing the damaged planet they’ve inherited, asking the right questions, and inventing solutions to create a path forward. Their commitment to action and their clarity of purpose offers a model for how we should all proceed. 

Storyteller airs every Sunday at 1800 GMT. Live stream: